US Treasury yields rise after GDP data tops estimates, Yellen warns of public debt

Key Points
  • Economic growth in the third quarter grew faster than expectations, coming in at 3.3 percent, its fastest pace in three years.
  • Current Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told Congress that she's worried about the ballooning national debt.

U.S. government debt yields rose on Wednesday after GDP data topped expectations, while investors watch a speech by outgoing Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note sat higher at around 2.383 percent at 1:23 p.m. ET, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was up at 2.825 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.


Economic growth in the third quarter grew faster than expectations, coming in at 3.3 percent, its fastest pace in three years. Economists polled by Reuters had expected third-quarter GDP would be raised to a 3.2 percent rate.

Investors were cautious with the new information, however, as inventories — goods that have yet to be sold — comprised 0.8 percentage points to total growth.

Meanwhile, the Fed's Beige Book is expected to be published at 2 p.m. ET.

Current Fed Chair Janet Yellen testified on the outlook of the U.S. economy before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee in Washington. Yellen's testimony comes just a day after Chair nominee Jerome Powell had a confirmation hearing Tuesday.

During the hearing, the chair explained that she's grown concerned over the current state of public debt.

"I would simply say that I am very worried about the sustainability of the U.S. debt trajectory," Yellen said. "Our current debt-to-GDP ratio of about 75 percent is not frightening but it's also not low."

The comments come as Republican leaders move to pass comprehensive tax cuts that would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. Congressional budget hawks have frequently voiced objection to the proposals, saying the cuts would aggravate an already-unsteady debt level.

Markets meanwhile are likely to be on edge during the session, after news emerged that North Korea had fired an intercontinental ballistic missile — that landed into the Sea of Japan — that state media said was capable of reaching the U.S.

Looking to later in the week, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill aimed at reforming the U.S. tax code on Thursday.

In the previous trading session, the Dow Jones industrial average closed 255.93 points higher after news emerged that the Senate took a step towards passing a bill aimed at reforming the tax code. On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee approved the Senate's tax plan, bringing the upper chamber closer to a floor vote.

—CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report